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NASA Copernicus Nuclear Rocket

Source: http://www.theenergycollective.com/dan-yurman/2410331/nasa-starts-work-nucle...

NASA Copernicus Nuclear Rocket: "a low enriched uranium (LEU)-based NTP engine for Mars transport" #SpaceX #Mars

'BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:BWXT) announced that its BWXT Nuclear Energy, Inc. subsidiary has been awarded an $18.8 million contract from NASA to initiate conceptual designs for a nuclear thermal propulsion reactor, using LEU, in support of a possible future manned mission to Mars. The scope of the contract includes initial reactor conceptual design, initial fuel and core fabrication development, licensing support for initial ground testing, and engine test program development. Work under the contract is expected to continue through 2019. Part of NASA’s Game Changing Development Program, the Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) project could significantly change space travel, largely due to its ability to accelerate a large amount of hydrogen or other propellant out of the back of a rocket at very high speeds, resulting in a very efficient, high-thrust engine.

“As we push out into the solar system, nuclear propulsion may offer the only truly viable technology option to extend human reach to the surface of Mars and to worlds beyond,” said Sonny Mitchell, Nuclear Thermal Propulsion project manager at NASA Marshall.

“We’re excited to be working on technologies that could open up deep space for human exploration.”

An NTP system can cut the voyage time to Mars from six months to four and safely deliver human explorers by reducing their exposure to radiation. That also could reduce the vehicle mass, enabling deep space missions to haul more payload.'

+ NASA Starts Work on Nuclear Propulsion Systems to Get to Mars (2017):
+ http://www.theenergycollective.com/dan-yurman/2410331/nasa-starts-work-nuclear-propulsion-systems-get-mars

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